Our tomato plants are looking great, with flowers and some small, green tomatoes. Even though we have yet to harvest a single tomato… if you want fall tomatoes, now is the time to start more tomato seeds.
In our part of the Carolinas, we have two tomato seasons. We can grow tomatoes in the spring, and then again in the fall, but they generally do not produce fruit in July or August. Tomatoes do not like our summertime heat and will likely die after they produce tomatoes in the next month or so. Even if the plant survives into July, you will not get any more tomatoes. When daytime temperatures get over 85, or nighttime temperatures do not fall below 70, tomato flowers will fail to pollinate and drop off the plant.
While it is possible to baby your spring tomato plants so they will survive though the summer, and these spring plants can flower again to produce fall tomatoes when it gets cooler… it is much easier to just start with a fresh crop for the fall.
Just like we did back in February, we will put seed starting soil in one of our seed starting greenhouses. Drop the seeds in, one per pod, and spray gently with water to wet the soil. We will keep this inside (in the air conditioning) in front of a south facing window for the next 6-8 weeks. Make sure the soil stays damp, and the seedlings get plenty of water. Toward the end of July, we will set these outside to acclimate to our hot weather. When these get planted around August 1st, they will grow for a month or so, and start producing flowers in September. Hopefully, our summer heat will break in September to allow the flowers to pollinate.
If you transplant tomatoes at the beginning of August, you will have Fall tomatoes in October. These plants will keep producing into November until the first freeze of the season. Any tomatoes left on the plant the day before the first freeze should be picked and will make great fried green tomatoes.